So what does a celebrity chef born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and now living in New York like to drink? Cocktails and spirits, of course.
Marcus Samuelsson, who won acclaim for his inspired cooking at Midtown’s modern-Swedish restaurant Aquavit, recently opened Red Rooster in Harlem, which is all about comfort food and drinks. “Cocktails, for me and the Red Rooster, were very important,” he says. And fully a third of the space is devoted to a massive bar. The chef is even planning to open a separate speakeasy-style establishment in the basement.
Not surprisingly, the menu boasts an assortment of tasty beverages, many of which feature bourbons infused with a range of spices and fruits, including nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and fig. And if you prefer your liquor straight, there’s a selection of fine spirits, including bottlings from Pappy Van Winkle and A.H. Hirsch. Samuelsson isn’t afraid to serve any of them with his dishes.
He recommends having bourbon with his hearty braised oxtail, the “fried yard bird” smothered in white mace gravy and even the curry-and-shrimp dirty rice. When pairing with Kentucky’s finest, “you want more of a rustic flair,” he says.
While Samuelsson’s “not a four-cocktails-a-night guy,” the liquor cabinet in his Harlem home is pretty well stocked. The chef usually has some aged Barbados rum, vodka and always the elderflower liqueur St-Germain, because “you can go in so many directions with it.” And for entertaining, he keeps a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label on hand. “It’s old-school,” he says. “I love it.”
Contributed by Marcus Samuelsson
- 2 oz Nutmeg-Infused Bourbon*
- .75 oz Cherry Heering
- .75 oz St-Germain
- Garnish: Flamed orange twist
- Glass: Martini
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a flamed orange twist.
*Nutmeg Infused Bourbon:
- 2.4 oz Whole nutmeg seeds (about 12)
- 1 (750-ml) bottle Bourbon
Add both ingredients to a wide-mouthed, airtight container and seal. Let stand for 2 weeks. Strain, and rebottle the liquid.